What impact will E10 have on transport and drivers?

E10 has rolled out across Britain’s forecourts but how green it is and what will it cost drivers?

Big Zero Report 2022

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Starting from today, E10 petrol, which is made with up to 10% bioethanol, a type of renewable fuel, is available at Britain’s forecourts. 

The Department of Transport predicts the measure could cut transport emissions by the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road each year.

Asked about the carbon emission reduction potential of the measure, Sir Nic Dakin, Director of Skills and Training, Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce and Former Labour MP who chaired the all-party group of bioethanol told ELN: “It’s obviously a step on the way. It’s an intermediate step, but it’s something that can be done now. Indeed could have been done several years ago to make an immediate contribution to carbon reduction.”

He added that he does not really know why the government did not introduce the measure earlier like countries such as Finland and Germany: “To bring that decision in early, I think the government was always nervous about it. They never had a rational argument against introducing E10 after all, we all have E5 in petrol at the moment.

“So, to move to E10 was a very small step. I think they were nervous about the introduction of E10, in some parts of Europe it had been clumsily done and had some kickback from consumers, but surely the UK Government could have learned from that and rolled it out effectively as it was rolled out in other parts of the world, four or five years ago.”

Sir Nic also commented on the main concern from critics who have moral objections to using food crops to produce a new fuel blend: “It depends on where the crops are being sourced from. It depends on the transportation of those crops. You need to look into what’s actually happening rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to one way or other.”

Speaking about the implications of the E10 introduction on classic car drivers, Malcolm McKay, Director of Historic and Classic Vehicles Alliance Limited told ELN: “There are several considerations. First of all, it won’t cause any problems if you fill up with E10 straight away but there are a number of areas where it can damage the fuel system of the car.”

Mr McKay added: “All (classic) cars will run on it, but people have to, if they are going to use it regularly, they need to change certain elements in the fuel system, rubber fuel lines, the floats in the car directors in some cases.”

A recent report estimated E10 fuel could cost the British classic car drivers £89 million, an average of £297 per car.

Greg Carter, AA Technical Expert, said: “Most vehicles after 2001 are compatible, but anything after 2011 is definitely compatible.”

Mr Carter said nearly 95% of the UK’s petrol cars are compatible with E10. He advises drivers who use pre-2011 cars to check their compatibility on the government website.

Asked about whether the E10 introduction will further increase the inequality between rich and low income drivers, Greg said: “That is probably the biggest issue. The cars, the contemporary vehicles that can’t run on E10 are older vehicles, probably owned by people who have low incomes that can not afford to change their car. And so yeah, the fuel bill is going to rise.”

Watch the video to hear the full interviews.

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